We Must Be Doing What Is Right

September 30, 2017

Friends,
Do we do what is right? How often? All the time? Most of the time? Okay, it’s often hard to evaluate ourselves objectively, so let’s ask, “Do others see me doing right, and how often? Would they consider me to be a righteous-acting person or a sinful-acting person?” I’m adding the word “acting” to the words “righteous” and “sinful” because these two latter words should be opposites to us since God’s Word reveals them to be opposites.

Let’s make no mistake about it: Scripture tells us that righteous people are not those who claim to be righteous in God’s eyes or who claim, “I have had Christ’s righteousness imputed to me”, but are instead those who are righteous-acting –those whose actions, thoughts, and words are righteous in God’s sight. Contrary to popular opinion, this is the Truth taught throughout the Word of God, just as 1 John 3:7b confirms: “He [the person] who does what is right is righteous, just as He [Christ Jesus] is righteous.” And the first part of the verse gives the warning, “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.” Let’s take serious note: False doctrine is anticipated on this issue, warned about, and warned about to the children of God.

In case we still cannot see ourselves clearly enough to evaluate ourselves in this area, let’s then ask it of others we know: “Does that person generally do what is right, or generally do what is wrong?” 1 John 3:10 says, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” Or, “Anyone not practicing righteousness is not of God.” I’m not advocating going around judging people, but I am advocating that we discern, and particularly that we discern our own selves, our own actions, our own righteousness or unrighteousness before God. I meet people often, especially while evangelizing, who think they are fine in God’s eyes, even while they continue to buy and/or sell drugs, hire prostitutes, engage in unwholesome talk, and cheat their fellow man. Can such a person really belong to the Lord? 1 John 3:10 makes it abundantly clear that they do not. It makes it abundantly clear that, rather, they belong to the devil. If we can see this situation plainly in others, let’s try to see our own position plainly and truthfully.

This is 1 John 3:10 in its entirety: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who is not practicing righteousness is not a child of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother.”

Most of us know love is a must –that we must love the Lord fervently and love others as ourselves. But what about having a life that is filled with “doing what is right”? God’s Word tells us that this is both a proof and a requirement in our salvation status. Yet the church is ignoring this. They are denying that it is so. They are teaching that Christ-followers can do wrong / be sinful / have a life characterized by unrighteous behavior, and still be seen as righteous in God’s opinion. What deception.

1 John 3:8 says, “Anyone practicing sin is of the devil.” Verse 6a says, “Anyone abiding in Him [Christ] does not sin.” The rest of the verse says it even more strongly: “Anyone sinning has not seen Him nor has he known Him.” (v. 6b) Chapter 5, verse 18 says, “We know that everyone having been born of God does not continue to sin.” Chapter 2, verse 4 says, “The person saying, ‘I have known Him,’ yet is not keeping His commandments, is a liar and the Truth is not in him.”

Let’s go over to the Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 24. Jesus says, “Anyone not loving Me does not obey My teaching.” This means, then, that anyone who is not obeying Christ’s teaching does not love Him. Does anyone not loving Jesus make it to Heaven? Most Christians would say, “No”, as certainly would I, and we can confirm this in the Word, such as when Jesus teaches in this passage that it is the person who obeys Him within whom the Spirit sets up residence. (v. 21-23) And of course, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ indwelling him or her, that person does not belong to Christ.” (See Rom. 8:9)

While we’re at Rom. 8:9 let’s note that it also confirms that if we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, then we will not be controlled by the flesh (sinful nature / fallen natural nature) but will instead be controlled by the Spirit. Indeed, we have died to the old self and have a new nature and a new Boss. (Rom. ch. 6) If we resist following Him… if we ignore His orders… how can we claim to belong to Him? If we defy our employer’s instructions, would we last long in the company? If we disregard civil laws, would we not soon end up in jail? Heb. 10:29 warns, “How much worse a punishment do you think that person deserves who has trampled upon the Son of God, and who has esteemed as ordinary the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” How can we claim to follow Christ if we are being daily controlled by the fallen natural nature?

So where do we draw the line? How much unrighteous behavior severs us from Eternal Life? None? –if we claim to have trusted Jesus for salvation? What about a person who claims to belong to Christ yet who keeps falling into the sin of child molesting? Is that person saved because he has trusted in “Christ’s imputed righteousness” for himself? What about a “Christian” who views pornography? Is he really “a new creation”? (2 Cor. 5:17) Do such “Christians” truly possess the Holy Spirit who gives us “all the power we need to live godly”? (See 2 Pe. 1:3,4) Has the old self really died? Has such a person truly been washed clean? And if so, are they walking in that cleansing, or are they going back to the filth? The latter would describe such a person and 2 Pe. 2:20-22 explains, clearly, such a person’s fate.

Now let’s ask, if someone keeps doing the most vile of deeds, even while claiming to be saved, is that person saved? I think most everyone would have to say, “No, that person is deceiving himself.” Okay. So what about “lighter” sins? What about if someone is being immoral in any way? What about if someone has a habit of drugs, theft, rage, greed, laziness, slander, or lying?

Friends, the true standard is not our opinion. The standard is God’s standard and He has revealed what that is in His Word. This can be seen in Gal. 5:19-21 where we are told that “those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God” and it lists impurity, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, drunkenness, etc. “Those who live like this…” –That’s about behavior. Another example is in 1 Cor. 6:9-11 where a similar list is given. Verse 9 there warns us to not be deceived about the fact that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And lest anyone says, “Well, ‘the wicked’ are those who have not had Christ’s righteousness imputed to them”, verses 9 and 10 list those characters who behave in particular manners. Wicked and righteous are labels the Bible gives to describe people as a result of the way those people conduct themselves. (See Mt. 13:41-43 & ch. 25 and John 5:29 and Ja. 2:14-26 just for starters.)

Some other lists of behaviors and character traits that will disable people from salvation can be seen in Eph. 4:31-5:7 which include bitterness, slander, and greed, and in Col. 3:5-10 which include lust, anger, malice and fowl talk, and in Rev. 21:8 which include the cowardly and all liars.

Col. 1:21 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because…” Why? –Because you had not yet put your trust in Christ and been imputed forever with His righteousness? No. It says, “…because of your evil behavior.” It is sin that separates us from God and if we go back to wallowing in it, we have forfeited the grace of God that has allowed for us, and been available to empower us, to walk pleasing to Him. (Jonah 2:8,9 // Rom. 2:1-16 // 2 Cor. 6:1,2,14-18 // Titus 2:11-14 // Heb. 6:8 & 10:26-31)

So, is our life one of sinful-acting or righteous-acting? Are we wicked or are we righteous? All individuals, including those who claim to be saved, are given a label by God based on whether or not we are making a daily practice of doing what is right. (Luke 9:23-25) If we are not, we are sinning (Ja. 4:17), we do not belong to God (1 John 3:10), and we are, instead, of the devil. (v. 8 )

Let us, therefore, “repent and turn to God, doing works consistent with repentance.” (Acts 26:20)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,
Witnessing downtown today was really great. I had a lot of lively conversations, including with atheists, with others who think that what they believe actually creates their eternal reality, and then also with those who believe God’s Word and want to walk closer to Jesus. I was glad that the Lord led me to go on from the train station to the restaurant area because there was a booth festival up there and thus loads of people. Truly, it is a high honor to spread the Good News in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit and I appreciate all the prayer backing from my mom and from other prayer partners, for it definitely helps make my efforts all the more successful.

My signs I used today were: “Jesus is the only true Savior. John 14:6”. And: “Look at Jesus, not at the wind and the waves.” And: “God says to sin’s captives, ‘Be freed!'” And: “Christ’s cross doesn’t cover a continuation in sin. Heb. 10:26”. And: “The Judge (Jesus) is at the door. Ja. 5:9”. And: “Lips that praise God but hearts far from Him..? Mark 7:6”.

Last week while witnessing downtown, I talked with two other evangelists that I once in a while see down there and one of them took a picture of me displaying another one of my signs (see below) and sent it to me. (The week before, they had given a Bible to the young man who is next to me in the picture and he was talking with them again, excited about his new walk with Christ. Please pray for him.)

So what about the message on my sign in this photo? Is it correct? I get a lot of reactions from this sign –both affirmations and rebukes– but I’m guessing that many church-goers would say it is not correct theology. Let’s look, though, at Scripture and let’s begin with the three verses I have referenced underneath the statement, “Holy conduct is necessary for salvation.”

The first is 1 Pe. 1:15 and it says, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” This is a command, not a suggestion, and it says, “Be holy in all your conduct.” We are being commanded to be holy. –By way of a claim? No, but by way of our behavior. Do we have to obey this command? Yes, we do –if we want to inherit Eternal Life. As Jesus said, “If you want to enter into Life, keep the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) He also said, “If anyone keeps My Word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51) And what if we don’t keep (adhere to / heed / follow / submit to / obey) His Word? Then we will experience death. Eternal Death. Hell. It’s that simple.

So the command is that we be holy in all our conduct, and this required holiness is being equated with God’s holiness. In other words, not a little bit holy, but fully holy. And it is about conduct. Jesus taught the same when He said, “You therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) –And when He said, “You are My friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) This “doing” is not an “imputed righteousness” but it is a producing of fruit done in the will of the Father. (v. 16 // Mt. 7:21) Jesus warned that those in Him who do not continue to produce His fruit will be cut off (John 15:2) and thrown to the fire. (v. 6)

The second verse I referenced on my sign is John 5:29 where Jesus said, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Can committing sin be “doing good”? Of course not. And let’s remember that neglecting to do good is sin in itself (Ja. 4:17), that it is a path to being vomited out of God’s mouth (Rev. 3:15,16), and that it is damnable. (Mt. 25:41-46)

The third verse I referenced on my sign is Heb. 12:14: “Pursue peace with all, and holiness, which without, no one will see the Lord.” Can anyone deny that this verse is commanding us to pursue holiness because if we do not attain it, we will not see the Lord? Can anyone deny that this verse teaches that holiness must be pursued? Again, it is not a suggestion, but a command and a warning. We should take note that the following verses (v. 15-17) about missing the grace of God, defilement, and missing our chance, teach that holiness is not a claim but instead an existence of clean conduct and that we can indeed sell our inheritance for a bowl of sin.

We have been told that obedience to God and His commands is a requirement in serving God. (John 8:31 & 12:26) So we can’t serve the Lord (or love Him or honor Him or be unified with Him or belong to Him) if we don’t obey Him / His Spirit and His teaching. (Rom. 6:16,17 & 8:4,9,14) Obedience to God is what makes us holy. It is not about a claim. It is about conduct. As 1 John 2:3,4 tell us, if we do not obey Christ’s commands, then we are not in the Truth and do not know Christ.

Holiness is about what we do. A claim to love Jesus and His teaching is not sufficient. The claim must be backed up by righteous behavior (John 14:15-24 // Titus 1:16 & 2:11-14 // 1 John 2:29) and a doing of what the Master is instructing. (Mt. 12:42-46) Any other teaching is a deception. (Ja. 1:22 // see also Luke 12:15-21 and 1 Thes. 4:1-8 and Titus 2:1 and Heb. 2:1-3 & 10:26-31) As Gal. 6:7,8 say, what we sow, we do reap, eternally.

I give plenty of Scripture to back up what I teach and I encourage people to look up the verses I don’t take time to quote. But here are ten more that reveal that holy conduct is necessary for remaining on the path of Salvation so that one actually arrives at the Final Destination / Eternal Life / Heaven / Eternity with God:

1. 2 Tim. 2:19: “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” This means we must turn from wicked (sinful) conduct to holy (righteous / obedient-to-Christ / walking in the will of God) conduct.

2. Eph. 5:3-6: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or crude joking… For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person –such is an idolator– has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”

3. 1 Cor. 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the wicked [the unrighteous / wrongdoers] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor… drunkards nor verbal abusers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed…” The contrast of being washed clean or remaining unclean is dependent upon behavior, not a claim, and we are being warned that being deceived about this fact is indeed a danger.

4. Gal. 5:19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition… I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this [behave like this] will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

5. 1 Pe. 4:17: “…what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?”

6. Heb. 5:9: “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”

7. 2 Thes. 1:8,9: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction…” And as 1 John 2:3-6 reminds us, knowing the Lord happens only by obeying His commands and living like Jesus.

8. Rom. 2:6-11: “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life…” This passage goes on to say that those who are self-seeking, reject the Truth, and follow evil, have God’s wrath awaiting them, and that God does not show favoritism. Again, this passage is about conduct.

9. Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation… teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for… Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”

10. Rev. 22:11,12: “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” These verses are contrasting those who behave holy or unholy, and verses 14 and 15 do so also. Verses 18 and 19 show that actions define eternal destiny, as does 21:7,8, & 27.

There are many more Scripture verses that teach that holy conduct is necessary for inheriting eternal life. But hopefully this has been enough to convince the skeptics.

To read another post I wrote on this subject, click here:

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/strive-for-the-holiness-without-which/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
The tithe is not an obligation for Christians. There are no commands in the New Testament to pay 10% or more to a church. “The tithe” was made for the Israelites who were in a theocracy and as a means of support for their temple ministers who ministered before the Lord and on behalf of the people full time, daily, and who had no other income. There were also tithes set aside for the poor (like our taxes that support the welfare system) and also toward one’s own “savings account” for required religious pilgrimages. On the other hand, we who are in the New Covenant are commanded to be generous, and to obey in every area of our lives, including in our finances, all that the Spirit prompts us to do.

The Holy Spirit will certainly lead us to obey God’s moral law, which is encompassed by the Law of Love –to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love others as ourself. (Jesus in Mark 12:29-31) Referring to these and the Ten Commandments, Jesus also said, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) We should quote that for those who think people can sin and still belong to Christ. In fact, we are held to a higher Law than that of the Ten Commandments. For as our Lord has informed us, our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (who held to the Commandments strictly, at least outwardly), or we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Mt. 5:20)

Our righteousness must flow from a cleansed / clean / pure heart, and if we have that, we will constantly uphold God’s moral law of conscience (Rom. 2:13-15), which is the Royal Law of Love. (Ja. 2:8, see also Mt. 22:37-40) Therefore, “If we walk in the Spirit we are not under law.” (Gal. 5:18) –Because we will already be serving God (conducting ourselves) in complete holiness and obedience to Christ’s Spirit. (Rom. 8:9,14)

None of us can be declared righteous by the works of the law; but rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Rom. 3:20) So although the law is holy, righteous, and good (7:12), because we cannot consistently obey it (without the Spirit’s power), it actually puts us to death. (v. 7-13) For the penalty of committing sin (this being a transgressing of the law –1 John 3:4) is death. (Rom. 6:23) And since committing just one sin makes us guilty of breaking the whole law (Ja. 2:10), we are thereby “held prisoners by the law”. (Gal. 3:23) But Jesus! So through our faith (trust and commitment) to/in Him, “we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” (v. 25) “So the law was our tutor until Christ” (v. 24) “in order that we might be declared righteous by faithfulness.” (Same verse)

“So, my brethren, you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another” (Rom. 7:4) –to Christ, “in order that we might produce fruit for God.” (Same verse) Therefore, by dying to the law (v. 5) –which had aroused sinful passions in us so that we bore fruit for death (same verse)– “we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” (v. 6)

So, God “condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous mandates of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Really? Spotless?

June 18, 2016

Friends,
While witnessing downtown on Thursday (the Trump rally was about a mile away so I only met about a handful headed there), I was asked a question by one of my long-time friends who used to be a pimp and has, for a few years now, been trying to get right with God. He asked, “Do we really have to be spotless?” This was after I had been exhorting him about fleeing from and severing all sources of temptation, and about continuing in holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit which comes by reading and obeying the Word of God.

Do we have to be spotless before God? I told my friend that yes, we do! Someone might say, “I agree, but this spotlessness (perfect righteousness) does not come by our own effort, but simply by believing what Jesus did for us on the cross and asking for pardon and salvation which enables God to then impute Christ’s righteousness to us so that from then on, whenever He looks at us, God sees no sinfulness in us but only His Son’s perfection, and this is the case no matter what our behavior actually is.” Though likely stated in a different way, this IS what most “evangelicals” are saying and teaching.

I quoted to my friend a bunch of verses, and one of them was 2 Pe. 3:14 which says, “…Make every effort to be found by Him [God] spotless, blameless, and at peace.” We are to be spotless –void of sin. As Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) How perfect? How spotless? How clear of sin? We are told that our holiness is to be as perfect as God’s. Whether or not a person wants to argue that this word ‘perfect’ really means ‘mature’, it would still mean to be so as perfectly as God. A mature person would still be required to be spotless. Spotlessness is the issue. It is commanded and required, and that it is our effort that is necessary is what is being addressed.

It is about our choice. God warned Cain in Gen. 4:7, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Jesus warns us of the same. (Mt. 7:21-23 // Luke 13:3 // John 5:29)

Therefore, since we have been given the Holy Spirit by which to walk pleasing to God (Rom. 8:1-14 // Gal. 5:16 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4), if we choose not to do so, we are left at the Judgement without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20 // Heb. 2:3 & 10:26-31)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Yesterday I did a search on the false doctrine of hyper-grace and found an excellent sermon which I listened to carefully in its entirety. I urge everyone to do the same. Here it is:

https://vimeo.com/59298991

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

P.S. Besides Dr. Brown pointing out numerous Truths, I also found it special that the Lord confirmed to me what I had written in my last post about the importance of all Scripture, including the Old Testament.  What I learned that I hadn’t known, is how prevalent it is becoming that “Christians” are throwing out the words of Jesus as they insist that Paul’s message of grace negates Jesus’ hard words, and particularly because Jesus spoke them to the Jews and before the cross.

Friends,
In John 17:17-19 we read Jesus praying to the Father, “Sanctify them through Your Truth: Your Word is Truth. As You have sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the Truth.”

From these verses we can learn that it is God’s Word, the Truth, that sanctifies us, which means that it cleanses us from sin and makes us holy and separated unto God. Let no one think that “sanctify” means only “set apart for God”. Many people teach this, but it is not all that sanctification entails. We are set apart unto God through His grace and power and through our faith (our belief, repentance, and submission), but we must remain in this position. (John 15:1-10 // 2 Peter 3:17) If we continue deliberately sinning, we are treating our sanctified position with contempt and God will negate the pardon He gave us. Those who do not believe this need to study and contemplate such verses as Mt. 18:32-34 and Heb. 10:26-31.

Let’s look again at John 17:17-19. We see that it is through God’s Word that we are able to abide in righteousness before God. And why does Jesus sandwich between two phrases –phrases about being sanctified by the Truth– a statement about His commission of sending us into the world (to spread the Truth)? I believe it is because our obedience to the “Great Commission” (see Mt. 28:18-20) is part of our sanctification. As we abide in God’s Word –saturating ourselves with it by reading it, studying it, meditating on it, and putting it into practice– we grow in the fruit of the Spirit and in knowledge of God, His ways, His power, His holiness, His wisdom, His maturity, His grace, and into His image. (Rom. 8:29 // Gal. 5:22,23 // Eph. 1:17-19 & 4:13 // 2 Peter 1:5-8 & 3:14,18) Jesus reveals through His prayer that this growth and fruit production happens through the Word of Truth.

What then should we be doing concerning the Word of Truth? We should be seeking its gems fervently. We should be studying it, memorizing it, and obeying it. Do we set aside plenty of time each day to sit, undistracted, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit who is found in the Word? Do we quote it and meditate on it even while going about our other activities during each day? Do we organize our week so that we are putting the commands therein into practice? All these we should be doing. All these we are required to do. Attention, honor, and obedience to the Word of God is what will keep us sanctified in God’s eyes.

Let no one be deceived: Whatever we sow, that is what we will reap. (Gal. 6:7) If we sow to please the sinful nature, from that nature we will reap (within ourselves, for ourselves, and in and for those we influence) corruption, decay, rottenness, defilement, death, and destruction. (v. 8) But, if we sow to please the Holy Spirit, from Him shall we (and others we influence) reap Eternal Life. (same verse)

Sowing to the Holy Spirit means we are putting God’s Truth into our minds, our hearts, and our lives. It means we are abiding in God’s Word by meditating on it continuously and applying it obediently. It means we are growing in our sanctification and are thus pleasing to God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
It’s been a busy few weeks for me. A lot of it has been visiting those who are sick. Yesterday my mom and I visited a 91 year old missionary at the mission’s apartment building where she (“Aunt” Vivian) has been living, and actually thriving. With joy she cared for her ailing husband there until he died while she also has continued to nurture all the beautiful plants in and around the building. “And to think everything is running just fine without me!” she said, laughing. “Yes, isn’t that how it is?!” I responded. “We’re reminded we’re not the savior of anything.”

It’s true. We often envision ourselves as so necessary. But God has other willing servants besides us and He brings them forward at that time when He chooses to put us on the sidelines or to take us Home.

Still, we’re going to miss my “Aunt” Vivian, for she found out last week that she has two fast-growing tumors in her stomach that can’t be operated on. “Well,” Aunt Vivian said happily yesterday during our visit with her, “The Lord has to take us somehow.” I was sitting next to her, patting her as she lay on her couch, and my mom and I both exclaimed about how wonderful it is to see her still exhibiting her usual cheerful attitude. Aunt Vivian went on to tell us how kind and attentive the other missionary residents have been to her –some bringing meals, others checking on her even in the middle of the night, and some offering to sleep on the floor beside her some nights. “It is truly beautiful,” she said several times.

After leaving her room, we saw another friend in the hall –Mr. D.B. I was so sad to see him still very hunched over, a condition he’s had for years. We asked about his wife who also has been bad off for about a year, and being that he said she was up, he welcomed our request to visit her. So we did. There too we had a nice visit as we sipped the cranberry juice Mr. D.B. gave us, and, as we had with Aunt Vivian, we had a time of prayer with them. Later, after leaving, I told my mom how heart-breaking it is to see that Mr. D.B., even in his condition, is obviously doing most, if not all, of the care-taking for Mrs. D.B. In fact, I’ve seen him at the grocery store –reaching for groceries, all bent over… Oh, that we had more time in the day to help all the hurting people!!!

Then there is my “Aunt” Jean –the 81 year old who I wrote about on Nov. 17. Well, she passed away this morning at about 4:30. I’m glad that I, my husband, and my parents took time to visit her last month in the hospital. May the Lord comfort her family.

Then there’s my “Aunt” C. She had a massive stroke a few days before Thanksgiving and is not doing well. My brother gave some money for the youngest daughter to drive the five hours here, which she did and was able to stay a few days. Aunt C’s other children live nearby, thankfully, but it is still very hard to see our friends going through such suffering.

One of our missionary friends who was 94 asked me a while back when we visited her at her Assisted Living Home to be praying that she would go to be with Jesus. I did pray it and when she told my dad on one of his last visits to see her, “Please ask Rachel to pray that I die,” I prayed it even more –that the Lord would relieve her soon of her suffering. A few weeks later He did –on Oct. 29th of this year. She had been a missionary in Peru with her late husband, leaving behind a beautiful legacy, including that of influencing one of their sons who chose to carry on the Gospel work there.

Last Friday I drove back out to the country to attend a funeral (which is now appropriately called, for those who followed Christ, “A Celebration of Life”). My friend, Darlene, from the Sabbath church I sometimes went to, and who was only 68 years old, passed away, due to cancer, the Monday before. The Celebration of her life was so nice, and we were all comforted in knowing that she had stated that she was completely at peace about dying. Apparently she was even more wonderful than I thought –never to hold a grudge, always forgiving, so full of joy and fun, and also wise and responsible with home and church affairs, as well as her managerial job at the local newspaper. I found out that she had been the one who boarded the Sunday School bus as a child and led the way for her siblings to also seek God’s Truth.

Darlene left behind her preacher husband, who seemed to be doing well, four kids and their spouses, and several grand-children. Though it was a happy time in seeing so many of my friends again, I did shed tears during some extra touching parts of the very lovely service. I kept thinking of Darlene’s sweetness, her consistent kindness to me (even though I had often expressed to them my disagreement in some of their beliefs), and how everyone recognized that her outward elegance and beauty came from her inward holiness. It made me wish I had known her even better. It made me think again about what people will say about me when I die. It made me more determined to be a sweeter, better person…

Maybe we all should think about it: When we die, will people attend a funeral, or will they be attending, truly, “A Celebration of My Life”? In other words, who of us are living lives that others can celebrate, that others consider to be a life well spent, that others receive warm and joyful feelings as they think about us..? Or, do they have sad thoughts as they think on us? Sad because there was a lot of strife, cruelty, inconsideration, rudeness, unfairness, dishonesty…? Did our life cause others remorse? Did our life point others to Jesus and His ways, or did our life point others away from Jesus and His ways?

Hopefully, no matter where we are at in the level of goodness, sweetness, holiness, and overall Christ-likeness, may we, right now in the present, “be living wisely and making the most of every opportunity as we are careful to walk in God’s will.” (See Eph. 5:15-17) May we be allowing all suffering, sickness, hospital visits, and death to remind us to make every day count. –To make it count for what is right, and good, and holy. To make it count for salvation –others’ and our own.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel